The failure to engage the white working class has been described as a grave tactical error, and that may well be true, given the slim margin of victory in swing states. But the media’s obsessive focus on this voting bloc would leave you to believe that Trump’s voters largely live in areas hit by the decline in manufacturing, are suffering from economic anxiety, and turned out last Tuesday to voice their disdain for smug urban elitists. But this narrative paints a misleading picture of the typical Trump voter, and by doing so, lets off the hook an entire class of voters who are at least as responsible for Trump’s victory: middle-class and wealthy suburban whites, who also came out in droves for Trump and who make up a larger part of his coalition.
The average Trump voter is not poorly educated or unemployed, nor does he live in a rural area. Back in May, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver punctured the myth of the “working class” being Trump’s voter base: In exit polls of 23 states from the primaries, all showed a higher median income for Trump supporters than the national average, usually around $70,000. Exit polls last week, while not definitive, reveal that both college-educated white men and college educated white women voted for Trump by much higher than expected margins.